Terrorism has become a very common phenomenon nowadays. To many that grew up under the clout of that day on Sept. 11th, terrorism is a fact of life. Why does the terrorism appear to be growing as each year goes by despite our military efforts at diminishing or eliminating it?

Al Qaeda made its mark on the world with the horrendous 9/11 attacks. Shortly after this, its notoriety began to spread. Our invasion of Iraq opened the flood gates of hell. Al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq under Zarqawi, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), began to flourish and recruit like never before. The fallout from our scandals like Abu Ghraib and torture helped further increase their recruitment drives. Eventually Zarqawi was killed, AQI underwent a rebranding to transform to Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) then ISIS to ISIL and now IS. Its operations now cover areas across Syria and Iraq.

But the question remains, why do these terrorist organizations continue to be created even after they are destroyed or eliminated? How are they able to thrive and recruit?

In today’s media, many claim it is Islam and the religious doctrine while others claim it is Arabs or the political culture of the region that makes them more amicable with terrorism. The answer is not black or white. There are many motivations, circumstances and factors that take place to make someone take this road. But one of the main reasons were outlined by Congressman Ron Paul in a campaign stop once, “Intervention in the Middle East is the main motivation behind terrorist hostilities … Islam is not a threat to the nation.”1

But for those of us that lack any knowledge of history and continue to question why terrorism emanates from this region, we need to look at the region’s history for the past century.

It began with our allies, the British and French, who reneged on their end of the bargain, occupied instead of liberate the Middle East from the Ottomans. Then they began to slice and dice the region according to their desires (The infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement) not on the sectarian or tribal division on the ground, laying the groundwork for the conflict we see today. After WWII weakened those two, the mantle of occupation/intervention was replaced by us in the region.

Initially we were greeted into the region as a friend, they saw commonality to us since were a nation born out in oppression and rebellion to occupation and colonialism similar to the Arabs. In America, they saw camaraderie of a fellow nation colonized by Europe. But our intervention in the region did not bode well either. We continued what the Anglo-Franco alliance began. We continued the interventions, coups, and military engagements to ensure dictators would replace democracies in order to ensure stability over liberty.

These regimes for the most part were oppressive and authoritarian, who would use any means to suppress their population. Any uprising against them would be squashed by US support. This led to resentment and anger being built up against us. Extremist groups realized this and built upon it by becoming the social outlet for peoples’ grievances. The Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt played this role really well and in their first ever democratic election, they did well until a coup that replaced them with another military regime (some say we gave tacit support to).

The people of these nations have no respect for their government who they view as stooges; they see us as the nation who holds the control the puppets. These terrorist organizations capitalize off this anger and resentment and align it with their own agendas to recruit en masse and create the horrible scenes and acts of terrorism that we see.

Today, we see the world clamoring about the brutality and pure evilness of ISIS/ISIL/IS. There is no doubt they are a barbaric lot of despots. But how did they come about and able to continue?

In 2003, on a false premise, we invaded Iraq. We removed a brutal but secular dictator, Saddam Hussein. In his place, we allowed the ascension of a new Shiite Dictator, PM Nuri Al Maliki. He continued on a spree of oppressing Sunnis. This disenfranchised group attempted to do everything in a nonviolent approach. They protested, held sit-ins, etc. but to no avail. All the while we turned a blind eye and while our media covered the Arab spring everywhere it ignored this situation for some reason.

At the same time, IS who had retreated to parts of Syria to reinvigorate itself after its failures in Iraq, saw an opportunity. They seized upon it and building a coalition with former Baathist and the masses of disenfranchised Sunnis, promising redemption. With it we saw the fall of Mosul and then the capture of almost all predominant Sunni areas in Iraq. This momentum led to their victories and land grabs in Syria.

Now it is not to say that all Sunnis in Iraq and Syria support the oppressive and brutal tactic of IS, of course not. But IS was the only group that protected them and restored their dignity to them. They became that outlet of relief. It all began because we intervened to replace one dictator with another and continued to meddle in their affairs.  This case study of Iraq is a microcosm of the greater issue and history of the region. Similar issues can be seen in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the list goes on and on.

The morale of the story is, if we want to get rid of terrorism or greatly reduce it to what it was before, we need to stop blaming religions, history, culture, etc. but look at our own actions and begin changing our ways because it has obviously created a long history of blowbacks and other failures.

References

  1. Mataconis, Doug. “Ron Paul: American Foreign Policy Is The Primary Motivation For Terrorism.” Outside the Beltway. Outside the Beltway, 28 Aug. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.